September 27, 1994
Juliet Singer helped me a lot throughout Junior and High School. She's one of my role models. Without her, I wouldn't be here. She has helped me like nobody has. I wanted to write this essay about her because I want her to know how much she means to me and how much I love her.
Juliet Singer was my English and Social Studies teacher during F.A. Day for both seventh and eighth grades. On the first day of F.A. Day junior high school, I was a nervous wreck because I was in a new school, I knew nobody. I grew up in Boston School for the Deaf and it was really different. I was used to being in a deaf school and suddenly I was in a hearing school and placed in a deaf program.
"Mike, somebody needs to build up your confidence and make you proud instead of being shy and turning away and blushing!" That's what Mrs. Singer said to me on my first day. It was like she was a psychic or something. I had no confidence because I thought I could never be successful. Believe it or not, I was terribly shy then. I just couldn't look at anybody — except for pretty girls. I just couldn't talk. It was like my communication system broke down. Mrs. Singer knew I was nervous and shy but she kept talking to me. She wanted me to know that there's always someone to talk to.
"And everybody has problems, Mike — not just you. You may think of yourself as having the only problems or that you are the only one who gets disappointed or discouraged, but just look around and you will see a lot of people are just like you." But Mrs. Singer was also sympathetic. I was having a lot of problems with the school work when I started at F.A. Day. I was not used to it because B.S.D had always been easy for me and not challenging. She desperately wanted to help me. "Everybody excels in some one thing, some in many! All you've got to do is discover what!" She always had the answer to every problem, that made me to trust her a lot more and listen to her advice too. She was always motivating and that is what made her a wonderful teacher and person. After a rocky start, I became Student of the Month during 7th grade. Mrs. Singer deserves all of the credit for that award. I'd bet you if I told her that, she'd probably say, "No, Mike. You worked very hard for that honor."
During eighth grade, more deaf kids came to Day and it was a much better year for me. I was close with Mrs. Singer after seventh grade — no question about it. The sad part about it was that I knew I had to go on without her after I finished junior high. I thought I'd die without her. I even had some tears in my eyes when the last day of F.A. Day ended. It was very hard for me because Mrs. Singer was my teacher for two years and we were very close.
Towards the end of my freshman year, you wouldn't believe who came to work at the high school! Juliet Singer! I was so excited and glad that she was coming here. During my sophomore year, she interpreted my Biology class. Without her help, I would probably not have done well in that class.
I'll never figure out how Mrs. Singer does all of these things. But I know one thing for sure. When I get my diploma, she will be a major reason for it.
"Unlike my friends, I have known Juliet since she started student teaching, years before she taught in Newton... One thing I remember the most as a young child was her long, beautiful, curly hair on that smiling face. When I arrived at Newton North as a freshman, I saw Juliet for the first time in years. We quickly caught up on what we missed. One day I asked her what happened to her hair. I thought she had cut it. I had no idea at all that she had been fighting cancer in the previous years. She just replied, "Oh, I didn't cut it. I had cancer and had to have chemotherapy, which made my hair fall out." I immediately felt awful for asking and she sensed that. She was like, "Oh, don't worry about it." We talked about it for quite a while. She shared some stories about being bald. She said she never wanted to be bald again and desperately wanted to grow her hair out again. I understood the hair part, because my long hair had been chopped off very short without me wanting it that way. I was trying to grow out my awful haircut. I didn't have any classes with her until my sophomore year. I was so thrilled! I had her not only for one class, but several classes as an interpreter. This was my worst year because all the teachers were retiring and were awful teachers. She always interpreted what they said and then later on sat down with me and explained what was happening since the class was such chaos. One day, the teacher decided to call on me and asked me to demonstrate something by using my voice. I bluntly refused and tried to handle it in an appropriate way without being on bad terms with the teacher. Juliet said later on, "Hon, I'm so proud of the way you handled it." That made me feel a whole lot better. She also helped me deal with the teacher and how to explain to him about deaf culture and ASL. She influenced me so much with her compassion, intelligence, love, and uniqueness. There are too many qualities to explain. One thing I can't explain to other people is just the way she was. She was too special. To just explain it is impossible. Even if she disagreed, she never criticized what the other person's opinion was. She just accepted it. People's lives were influenced by her presence whether they knew it or not. Unlike many teachers who are teachers for all the wrong reasons, I knew Juliet loved teaching from the very beginning! She never backed down at all. She just kept on working on problems. If things needed to be explained, there was no better person to do it than her. I saw her, day after day, being exhausted and sick from chemo. I would ask her, "How are you?" She would say, "I'm fine" with a smile, but inside she was fighting this battle... The day she knew she had to stop teaching because the cancer had returned, one of the toughest things for her was telling us, her students. When she first told me, my whole body just went limp and I just hugged her. It was really tough, because I had lost people to cancer before. She looked at me and simply said, "I know, hon." Even though we wanted to be her foundation of strength, she always turned out to be ours. She gave us strength. I never knew how she got her strength. Her endurance was amazing to me. I know she went home and thought that life was unfair, but she never ever showed me that side. Nothing ever stopped her from anything. I remember the day the adoption was final with Abby. Juliet was so excited. She was telling me what happened with the judge. She was so thrilled and proud to be a mom. I was fortunate to know Juliet as a teacher, mother, role model, mentor, interpreter, woman — and as a friend. I do believe she is our guardian angel. I miss her so much and love her so much. As my mother says, "She's right here in our hearts always. Memories will always be with you."
"Mrs. Singer was a very special person who made a great deal of difference in the world and affected a lot of peoples lives... She led such a wonderful and full life by doing what she wanted... I know she would not want us to ever forget her, but to go on for her, to carry on her work, and to always keep her memory in our hearts… She will be missed greatly."